A 2007 graduate of Nevada said she has found a way to live through her passions. Kelli Soll said she is applying her education to be a "force for good," as she works collaboratively with all societal sectors – public, private and nonprofit.
Soll, who was back home visiting in Nevada last week, enjoying her family and some much-loved Iowa sweet corn, has been laying the foundation for her future during the past few years of graduate school at Boise State University (BSU) in Idaho. And it appears she’s laying the groundwork for an incredibly fulfilling life.
Graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in geology, Soll said her enthusiasm and interest in "people and the planet" motivated her to continue her education at BSU in public administration. "I wanted to better understand the operations of society and public service," she said about her educational choices.
As a graduate student, Soll had the great fortune of being accepted into the inaugural class of the Boise State Venture College, which she calls an "amazing opportunity that provided her with very close mentoring to develop a venture of her choice/passion/desire."
Also at BSU, Soll took part in a service learning course, which focused on providing interdisciplinary, international service opportunities for students. Through this course, she met Dr. Aileen Hale, who led a service learning course in Belize.
Soll had the opportunity to assist Hale in the creation and participation of service efforts in Belize, which led to a partnership between the two. "We recognized a broader audience, existing outside of the university, that not only wanted to travel to a new country to explore a new culture and land, but to participate in something meaningful and travel with purpose," Soll said.
Hale had been working on a Fulbright Scholarship focused on literacy development in Belize. Because of this, she had the opportunity to work closely with the Ministry of Education and University of Belize and develop partnerships for sustainable service.
Through Soll’s work with Hale and her involvement in the Venture College program, a business called Global Service Partnerships was born, with Soll and Hale working together to make it happen. "With a mutual passion for service and building relationships, we have combined our experiences and strengths to form a partnership that provides international opportunities focused on English language development in Belize," Soll explained. Soll sees Global Service Partnerships becoming her fulltime occupation.
On their website, www.globalservicepartnerships.org, people can learn all about the business and the opportunities provided. For instance, the next trip Global Service Partnerships offers to Belize takes place Oct. 10 through 18, and features exploration of the Mayan Ruins and Caving, and island excursions, along with taking part in service work with students and teachers in Belize to help with English language development. The cost per participant is $1,950, plus airfare. This is an all-inclusive expense, and Soll said those who need help raising funds are often given that type of assistance by herself and her partner.
"We provide and coordinate international service opportunities for individuals, families and groups to travel with purpose and address literacy challenges in Belize," said Soll, noting that even though English is the national language of Belize, it is the second or third language for the majority of those who can speak English.
Soll said she has already had the opportunity to share her passion with some of her hometown classmates from Nevada, like Claude Smith, who joined her in Belize last March. Another classmate and dear friend, Natalie Tendall, will join her this October.
To date, Global Service Partnerships has had 66 volunteers and interns from five states: Idaho, California, Iowa, Alaska and Washington. These people have served 230 Belizean children, seven Belizean teachers and five Belizean schools. "And that doesn’t include the ripple effect of these opportunities," Soll said.
In addition to the business’s early success, Soll was also honored to be selected as this year’s winner of Boise State’s first Business Model Competition, which allowed her to travel to Brigham Young University (BYU) in May and compete in the International Business Model Competition, which she called an "amazing" experience. The international competition was founded by Stanford University, Harvard University and BYU.
Soll hopes that anyone who is interested in an opportunity for international exploration and service work will consider taking part in what Global Service Partnerships has to offer.
"More than anything, I like the experience of transforming the lives of Americans and Belizeans through international service. The relationships you build with other American participants and Belizean teachers and students are for a life time.
"Many American participants find that they are more touched and impacted by their new Belizean relationships than they ever expected," Soll continued. "The impact of our work, locally and globally, is an inspiration that motivates me to continue the development of educational partnerships and global citizens."